Pearl Jam debuted their upcoming 12th studio album today (Jan. 31) in front of a crowd of invited guests at Los Angeles’ famed Troubadour club, with band members Eddie Vedder, Mike McCready and Jeff Ament, as well as producer Andrew Watt, on hand to introduce the project.
Specific details such as song titles and lyrics are being kept under wraps for now, but SPIN can confidently report that the album offers a little bit of everything for the longtime Pearl Jam fan. “No hyperbole — I think this is our best work,” enthused Vedder, who later poured tequila shots for the assembled audience. “I couldn’t be prouder of us as a band,” added Ament, who briefly got emotional while describing the experience of making the album.
The LP features several intense rockers that showcase the ever-powerful drumming of Matt Cameron and the panache of guitarist Mike McCready, whose solos are more prominent here than on 2020’s Gigaton. One has a chorus particularly tailor-made for chanting and fist-pumping.
A couple songs nod to the chiming, acoustic-flavored sound of the late Tom Petty, while another has the loping, off-kilter feel of past Pearl Jam tunes such as “Parachutes” and “All Those Yesterdays.” Thematically, Vedder is writing about human connection (or lack thereof), aging, parenting and the state of the world. “We’re still looking for ways to communicate,” he said.
Perhaps the song with the most “classic” Pearl Jam feel was conceptualized while Vedder and Watt were working on something else, but that story will have to wait for now.
Vedder made his solo album Earthling at lifelong Pearl Jam fan Watt’s Beverly Hills home studio in 2021, and the idea to bring Pearl Jam there to make their own album was hatched during that time (during the first session, band members didn’t even bring instruments with them to Los Angeles from Seattle). He added that parts of the upcoming record were tracked at Rick Rubin’s Shangri-La studio after Watt’s was rendered unusable due to flooding. “That space had a vibration to it,” Vedder said of Shangri-La. “I used every bit I could get.”
The Troubadour setting for the playback was apropos, as Vedder recalled Pearl Jam playing there in October 1991 just as their Epic debut album Ten was beginning to explode. He said the band was horrified to find the interior of the club plastered with Pearl Jam promotional material, which they then ripped down in front of the record label staffers who’d just set them up. “I want to apologize to them” he said. “Thanks for sticking with us.”